Saturday, October 30, 2010
Five from afar: Bruins 4, Senators 0
By James Murphy
Five thoughts and observations after watching the Bruins shut out the Ottawa Senators, 4-0, on Saturday night in Ottawa.
1. "Tank" Thomas in the zone and into the record books with "Tiny": Is Tim Thomas going to give up another goal? Probably. But it will be a well-earned goal, and when it happens is anyone's guess. Thomas made 29 saves for his second straight shutout and third this season. Thomas also entered the team record books by becoming the first goalie since Tiny Thompson 73 years ago to start the season 6-0-0. After the game, he announced that his new nickname is "Tank" Thomas.
Tim Thomas hasn't allowed a goal since the Bruins' 3-2 win against Washington on Oct. 21.
"Tank" entered the league record books as well. Thomas has the lowest goals-against average of any goalie in the first six games of a season in the expansion era. Thomas is only the second goalie in the expansion era (since 1967-68) with at least three shutouts in his first six games of a season. He hasn't allowed a goal since Jason Chimera scooped up his errant pass with 9:27 left in a 3-2 win over Washington on Oct. 21 and has a shutout streak of 130:33 going. His .50 GAA is the lowest for a goalie who won his first six games of a season in the expansion era.
If Thomas isn't named NHL player of the month, the league needs to figure out what the qualifications are for that award. Thomas is seeing the puck so well right now and his positioning is superb. He is by far the Bruins' MVP thus far.
2. Transition game and speed creating offense: One of the biggest differences with the Bruins this season has been their improved transition game and speed, specifically that of rookie Tyler Seguin, who scored his third goal of the season and second in the last two games with a power-play tally 13:55 into the second period. Dennis Seidenberg threaded the neutral zone with a pass up ice to Mark Recchi, and as Recchi gained control of the puck, Seguin went into another gear, blazing toward the net and taking the pass from Recchi to beat Ottawa goalie Brian Elliot. But that goal wasn't the one generated by speed and an improved transition game. Both Milan Lucic and Jordan Caron scored on breakaways and the Bruins created turnover after turnover with a brilliant forecheck.
The Bruins have opponents on their heels and thinking twice right now. That wasn't the case for most of last season.
3. Point Distribution shows offensive depth: Eight different Bruins had points Saturday night, and the point distribution in the 4-0 win was another reason this team is off to a 6-2-0 start. David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin and Jordan Caron lit the lamp for the Bruins. Meanwhile, Krejci, Mark Recchi, Patrice Bergeron, Andrew Ference and Dennis Seidenberg had helpers for the Black and Gold. This is another example of how deep this Bruins squad is. Even the fourth line of Brad Marchand-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton has been effective, as evidenced on Saturday with 49:11 of ice time and four shots total. Julien can roll four lines each game and he has plenty of weapons at his disposal.
4. Penalty kill: While Ottawa didn't exactly bring a lethal power play into Saturday night's game, the Bruins' penalty kill once again did the job, killing all three of the Senators' power plays and making sure Ottawa didn't gain momentum through the man-advantage.
The Bruins have the best penalty kill in the NHL right now with a 93.1 percent success rate and have allowed only two power play goals on 29 attempts. Also of note with the penalty kill is that rookie Jordan Caron continues to impress with his puck sense and instinct, and has been one of the team's best penalty killers. With the Bruins in need of clearing cap space, Caron's play on the penalty kill may make forward Daniel Paille expendable.
5. Seidenberg finding his stride: After missing the final four games of last season and then 13 playoff games with a wrist injury, Dennis Seidenberg is making up for lost time. Seidenberg assisted on Tyler Seguin's goal Saturday night and now has four helpers this season. But maybe his biggest effect has been his willingness to sacrifice for the team as he had six blocked shots in the win over Ottawa. He seems to be fully recovered from the wrist injury and ready to be an important part of the Bruins' blue line.